The sense of smell is one of the most primitive senses we have. Its purpose is to warn us if the food we are about to eat is rotten. And it plays a role in our finding a mate. But as humans evolved, we began to pay attention to other’s reactions to different smells.
Scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum have discovered that the facial expressions of the people around us influence the way we perceive an odor.
The part of the brain that is correlated with smell can be activated even before we actually smell something. The experiment involved people looking at images with happy, disgusted or neutral facial expressions and then evaluating a scent. People who had watched people with a disgusted face considered different scents to be more disturbing than usual.
The explanation is that the area of the brain responsible for our sense of smell creates an expectation of how certain things are going to smell. Our expectations, based on the reactions of others, influences the experiences itself.
In other words, there’s a social component even to our most primitive mode of interaction with the external world. Please share this!